Sunday, January 6, 2013
Although veteran director Chen Kaige has made epics on Chinese dynastic history a specialty of his wide-ranging career, his newest movie shifts radically to our Internet-suffused present for a complex melodrama hinging on corporate intrigue and cyber-bullying. Faced with the dire prospect of advanced lymphatic cancer, a tycoon’s executive assistant becomes the unsuspecting object of a web-fuelled hate campaign after an unfortunate incident on a public bus. The title’s “web” actually suggests the film’s many interconnected plot lines as a string of characters, linked by personal and business relationships and across class lines, react to each other’s moves as if in a life-size chess match. The web may be virtual, but Chen’s drama suggests its potential for good and ill at the level of everyday life.